DES MOINES —
Have a good ear for animals? Have an eye for avians? The Iowa Department of Natural Resources may want to talk to you.
The IDNR's Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program relies on people throughout the state to watch and listen to the state's fauna and record what they observe. While bird counters may use binoculars, volunteers for other animals, like frogs, have a tougher time.
Simply put, a lot of frogs don't wait around for people to visually identify them. As soon as they see someone close by the person hears a "plop" and the frog is under water. Identifying animals at night poses similar challenges.
So the IDNR trains people on how to track specific types of animals. Those who prefer birds can take part in training designed to teach how to monitor raptor and waterbird nesting sites. Fans of frogs can take a course to teach them how to distinguish between frog calls.
Both are chosen for specific reasons. Herons, egrets, night herons and cormorants are top predators in their environments. So their numbers can tell wildlife experts about the conditions and health of the sites.
Frogs, along with other amphibians, are very sensitive to changes in the environment. There has been a worldwide decline in their numbers. That has led experts to monitor their numbers closely.
Training varies around the state, with different parts taught in different locations. A workshop on frog and toad calls is scheduled for the Jefferson County Conservation Nature Center in Fairfield on April 9.
For a full training schedule, click here.